What Causes Sleep Apnea? - FAQ 2 - Los Angeles - Malibu - Thousand Oaks - Dr. Ronald Popper

Author: Southern California Pulmonary and Sleep Disorders Medical Center

Upper airway tissue obstruction can occur from a deviated nasal septum, which is the cartilage that runs up and down the middle of the nose, or from enlargement or hypertrophy of the turbinates, which are these ridges that occur within the nose. Some patients will have a droopy soft palate, which is the structure in the back of the throat. The uvula is often enlarged. That's the little "punching bag" that occurs in the back of the throat. The tonsils can be enlarged. And the tongue is often enlarged.

When the tongue is enlarged, it may come up to as high as here. The soft palate may droop down to as low as here, and you may have very little opening in the upper airway. From the side view, this structure drops down, like so, creating blockage in your airway. In addition, in patients with an overbite where the lower jaw is set back, the tongue is then pushed into the airway, further compromising the obstruction of the airway. If you have lesions on the vocal cords, they may also obstruct the airway.

I'm Dr. Ronald Popper, medical director of the Southern California Pulmonary and Sleep Disorders Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, California. To view more videos that help to address all of your questions about sleep apnea and other sleep disorders, please visit our website at SleepMD4You.com.

Thank you for watching and always remember, sleep well tonight for a better day tomorrow.

What Causes Sleep Apnea? - FAQ 2 - Los Angeles - Malibu - Thousand Oaks - Dr. Ronald Popper

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